BWW Reviews: Los Angeles Ballet Presents LA SYLPHIDE plus George Balanchine's SERENADE
With performances through June 21 in Los Angeles, the two-act story ballet LA SYLPHIDE will be paired with George Balanchine's romantic SERENADE at four of Los Angeles Ballet's home venues: UCLA's Royce Hall, The Alex Theatre in Glendale, Redondo Beach Performing Arts Center, and Valley Performing Arts Center in Northridge. Los Angeles Ballet will be touring out of California for the first time, presenting the same production in Seattle, Washington on June 27, 2014, at McCaw Hall at Seattle Center.
The evening begins with SERENADE, unquestionably one of Balanchine's most popular and beloved ballets. Set to Tchaikovsky's Serenade for Strings, the ballet evokes a moonlit world of romantic attraction and betrayal. First performed in 1934, SERENADE is a milestone in the history of dance being the first original ballet Balanchine created in America. Staged by Colleen Neary, one of George Balanchine's quintessential ballerinas, the ballet is performed by 28 dancers in flowing blue costumes in front of a blue background with no other scenery. Originating it as a lesson in stage technique, Balanchine's piece presents the most beautiful aspects of classical ballet with total group precision required. The members of Los Angeles Ballet display absolute perfection throughout, often creating movements that resemble the most complicated of human body puzzles that transform into lovely romantic pairings.
Colleen Neary says, "LA SYLPHIDE and SERENADE are two of the most romantic and, some say, most tragic ballets choreographed - the former with a story and the other without a literal one. There is a deep spiritualism to both."
That spiritualism is on full display in LA SYLPHIDE choreographed by Thordal Christensen after the original 19th century ballet by Danish choreographer August Bournonville, as the ballet recounts the tale of a Scotsman enamored of an entrancing woodland sprite (a sylph) and the poisonous interference of a witch, with tragic results. Ms. Neary is a marvel as Madge, the haggish witch dancing with her coven around a steaming cauldron in a misty forest, out to wreak havoc against the sylph (Allyssa Bross) who has entranced James (Kenta Shimizu) away from his intended bride, Effy (Chelsea Paige Johnston). This romantic triangle is the center of the ballet, with Bross and Shimizu allowing the audience to share in their blossoming attraction during a very high-spirited pas de deux. While this ballet is much more modern in its presentation, there are wonderfully classic corps de ballet numbers with the band of woodland Sylphs and many humorous mime dialogues between several characters. It's pure youthful joy!
Having debuted LA SYLPHIDE in 2009, this is the second time Los Angeles Ballet has brought the production to Los Angeles audiences. "Los Angeles Ballet's performances in 2009 were exemplary, among the finest achievements in the company's history," said Lewis Segal in his recent LA Times article, 'Faces to Watch 2014.'
Continuing LAB's mission to offer world-class professional ballet to greater LA, the program will be performed at four of LAB's home venues: UCLA's Royce Hall, The Alex Theatre in Glendale, Redondo Beach Performing Arts Center, and Valley Performing Arts Center in Northridge. Los Angeles Ballet is also excited to announce that it will be touring out of California for the first time, presenting La Sylphide and Serenade to Seattle, Washington audiences June 27, 2014, at McCaw Hall at Seattle Center.
After the empty stage during SERENADE, the environment completely transforms for LA SYLPHIDE, with two large and very impressive sets: first a Scottish village and then an enchanted forest. With exquisite lighting designed by Ben Pilat, each scene in the forest comes to life as characters enter and exit. The effect is spellbinding.
Ballet fans - don't wait to order your tickets today!
LA SYLPHIDE plus George Balanchine's SERENADE
Valley Performing Arts Center on Sat., May 31, 7:30 p.m.
Alex Theater on Sat., June 7, 7:30 p.m.
Redondo Beach Performing Arts Center on Sat., June 14, 7:30 p.m.
UCLA Royce Hall on Sat., June 21, 7:30 p.m.
Tickets: $30.00 - $95.00, students, children and seniors $24-$76 310-998-7782; http://www.losangelesballet.org
Photos by Reed Hutchinson
Allyssa Bross in La Sylphide.
Bianca Bulle & Alexander Castillo in George Balanchine's Serenade.